Former Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested that the government’s introduction of voter ID was an attempt at “gerrymandering” that backfired against the Conservatives.
Mr Rees-Mogg said the policy, which meant voters across England were required to present photo ID for the first time when casting their ballots at May’s local elections, had made it harder for elderly Conservatives to vote and “upset a system that worked perfectly well”.
Speaking at the National Conservatism Conference in Westminster on Monday (15 May), Mr Rees-Mogg said: “Parties that try and gerrymander end up finding their clever scheme comes back to bite them, as dare I say we found by insisting on voter ID for elections.
“We found the people who didn’t have ID were elderly and they by and large voted Conservative, so we made it hard for our own voters and we upset a system that worked perfectly well.”
Before the new rules were implemented, there were warnings that they could lead to various low-income and marginalised groups becoming disenfranchised.
Weeks before the UK’s local elections on May 4, the Electoral Commission said that a quarter of people were unaware they needed photo ID to vote.
Up to 3.5 million people don’t have an existing photo ID. You must have already registered to vote to apply for voter ID.
To avoid getting caught out, find out below what forms of ID are valid. Furthermore, if you don’t have a valid ID, find out below how to apply for a voter authority certificate.
What are the requirements for voter ID?
People in the UK will need to show photo ID to be able to vote in the following:
- UK Parliament by-elections
- local elections in England (including councils, mayors, the Greater London Authority and parishes)
- recall of MP petitions in England, Scotland and Wales
- Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales
- neighbourhood planning referendums and business improvement district referendums in England
- local authority referendums in England (including council tax increase referendums)
What forms of ID are acceptable?
Many people will have a driving licence or a passport, which are both acceptable forms of ID. However, there are other forms of ID people can use.
The following forms of ID are acceptable:
- a UK or Northern Ireland photocard driving licence (full or provisional)
- a driving licence issued by the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, the Isle of Man or any of the Channel Islands
- a UK passport
- a passport issued by the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or a Commonwealth country
- a PASS card (National Proof of Age Standards Scheme)
- a Blue Badge
- a biometric residence permit (BRP)
- a defence identity card (MoD form 90)
- a national identity card issued by the EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
- a Northern Ireland electoral identity card
- a voter authority certificate
- an anonymous elector’s document
Travel passes are also acceptable forms of ID, including the following:
- an older person’s bus pass
- a disabled person’s bus pass
- an Oyster 60+ card
- a freedom pass
- a Scottish national entitlement card (NEC)
- a 60-and-over Welsh concessionary travel card
- a disabled person’s Welsh concessionary travel card
- a Northern Ireland concessionary travel pass
You can still use your ID to vote if it has expired. However, it still needs to look like you and bear your current legal name.
How to register to vote
You can register to vote online here.
When you apply, you’ll be asked for your national insurance number, but you can still register if you do not have one.
You can register to vote in England if you’re 16 or older and either a British citizen, an Irish or EU citizen living in the UK; a Commonwealth citizen who has permission to enter or stay in the UK, or who does not need permission; or a citizen of another country living in Scotland or Wales who has permission to enter or stay in the UK, or who does not need permission.
How to get a photo identity card (or voter authority certificate)
If you do not have an acceptable voter ID, you can apply for a voter authority certificate.
You can apply online, and you’ll need a recent, digital photo of yourself and your national insurance number. If you don’t know your national insurance number, you can use something else to identify yourself, such as a birth certificate, bank statement or utility bill.
What have different parties said about Voter ID?
Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labour Party, said: “They have pushed through a bill that is going to prevent certain groups, particularly young people, from voting.”
Rachel Maclean, a junior levelling up minister, repeatedly refused to tell MPs whether the number of voters turned away from polling stations due to a lack of ID at local elections will be properly recorded, saying that it is up to individuals whether they decide to vote.
Alex Norris, the shadow elections minister, called voter ID “a solution in search of a problem”, and noted the policy would deprive hundreds of thousands of people of their ability to vote.
He said: “Will those people who were turned away by someone outside of a polling station who asked an individual if they have the ID, will they or will they not count as someone who has been denied a vote?”
Maclean added: “I do find it very surprising that their party is not committed to protecting the sanctity of the ballot box.”